A clinical residency is a planned program of postprofessional clinical and didactic education for physical therapists that is designed to significantly advance the physical therapist resident's preparation as a provider of patient care services in a defined area of clinical practice. It combines opportunities for ongoing clinical supervision and mentoring with a theoretical basis for advanced practice and scientific inquiry.
A clinical fellowship is a planned program of postprofessional clinical and didactic education for physical therapists who demonstrate clinical expertise, prior to commencing the program, in a learning experience in an area of clinical practice related to the practice focus of the fellowship. Fellows are frequently post-residency prepared or board certified specialists. A fellowship program must possess a curriculum that: 1) is focused, with advanced clinical and didactic instruction within a subspecialty area of practice; 2) is intensive and includes extensive mentored clinical experience; and, 3) provides a sufficient and appropriate patient population to create an environment for advanced clinical skill building.
A clinical residency program is designed to substantially advance a resident's expertise in examination, evaluation, diagnosis, prognosis, intervention, and management of patients in a defined area of clincal practice (specialty). This focus may also include community service, patient education, research, and supervision of other health care providers (professional and technical). Often, the residency experience prepares an individual to become a board certified clinical specialist.
A fellowship program is designed to provide greater depth in a specialty or subspecialty area than that which is covered in a residency program. Additionally, applicants of a clinical fellowship program must be licensed as a physical therapist and possess one or more of the following qualifications: 1) specialist certification (ie, OCS, NCS); 2) completion of a residency in a specialty area; or 3) demonstrable clinical skills within a particular specialty area.
Lastly, the clinical residency program should be completed within a minimum of 1,500 hours and in no fewer than nine (9) months and no more than 36 months. A clinical fellowship program should be completed within a minimum of 1,000 hours and in no fewer than six (6) months and no longer than 36 months. Programs whose timeframe falls outside of these parameters will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.